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Jeh Johnson: Trump Admin Must Handle Russian Meddling Threat

Image: Jeh Johnson: Trump Admin Must Handle Russian Meddling Threat
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By    |   Monday, 19 February 2018 02:44 PM

The Obama administration told the American public that Russians were attempting to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, former Department of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said Monday, but the statement was overshadowed by the infamous "Access: Hollywood" tape release.

But the real question is, Johnson told MSNBC's "Morning Joe," is what President Donald Trump's administration plans to do about the threat of Russian meddling in the 2018 midterm elections.

"We told the American people," he said. "We took a number of steps that we believe were appropriate at the time. Now, most important is what we're going to do now."

Trump has a "very good ability" to look to the past, he said, but the question now is what will be done to harden the nation's election cybersecurity this year.

"The intelligence community warned us last week of an ongoing attack and an ongoing threat," Johnson said. "The question we all need to ask the current administration is what are you doing about it right now?"

It's also important to educate voters about scrutinizing more of what they see and hear online.

"There's now a plethora of ways in which somebody with a keyboard can push out information using social media tools," he said. "It's got to start with the public educating the public and that's something that the president on down has to do."

Meanwhile, Johnson recalled how on Oct. 7, 2016 he and then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper issued a statement that ended up being overshadowed by the tape and recording of then-candidate Trump saying lewd things about women years before.

"That was the same day as the 'Access Hollywood' video," Johnson said. "All the talk that weekend was about 'when is [Donald] Trump going to withdraw from the race,' and 'how much longer does he have?'"

Meanwhile, it became clear to the Obama administration in late summer 2016 that the meddling was going on, and it was a problem deciding how to tell the American people, said Johnson.

"We were dealing with a variety of cross considerations about whether to inject ourselves into a very heated campaign, and whether the national security apparatus of our government should be put itself in a position where we would be accused of taking sides," said Johnson.

Johnson said he had also been concerned about the "scanning and probing" of public voter databases, and he issued no less than five public statements to state election authorities.

"Then of course on Dec. 29, we issued the sanctions against the Russian government," said Johnson. "It turns out now that it appears that Gen. [Michael] Flynn was having back-channel communications with the Russians about that, and it was three weeks before we left office."

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The Obama administration told the American public that Russians were attempting to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, former Department of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said Monday, but the statement was overshadowed by the infamous "Access: Hollywood" tape...
jeh johnson, trump administration, russian meddling
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2018-44-19
Monday, 19 February 2018 02:44 PM
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